wild clouds full of thunder. he was comfortable amid the thick attended cane brakes, the quagmires and the mountains. he hunted the oak, he acree maple and sweetgum forest that had never felt in ax blade. he was familiar with all the smells, the odor of decay and animal flesh, the roma of the air after a rain and the pungent smell of the forest. he knew the rivers lined with sycamore, poplar and willow that you breach the mountain through steep sided gorges was drained sounding names many with indian influences like the nola chucky, the pigeon, the tellico, the high wasik, the watauga, look who saw, the obais, the wolf, the elk. he sought the dimensions of lakes and streams studded with ancient cypress. he learned that dog days arrived
not with the heat of august but in early july, when the dog star rises and sets with the sun. he carried his compass and maps in his head. he traversed the land when it was lush in a the warm times in and when it was covered with the frost the cherokees described as clouds rosen on the trees. the wilderness was indeed crockett's cathedral. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at otb.org. and now thom shanker and eric schmitt look at how the u.s. government has been fighting al qaeda since 2005, the year the strategy of the u.s. had been using the previous four years was change. this is just over an hour. >> good morning everyone. welcome to the miller center form. today we are thrilled to welcome thom shanker and eric schmitt to
the nation's most accomplished journals covering national security and military affairs. and the authors of "counterstrike," the untold story of america's secret campaign against al qaeda. those oath of them spent roughly the last year as writers and residents of the center for new american security. thom shanker joined "the new york times" in 1997 as assistant editor and is currently a correspondent covering the pentagon and national security including efforts of transformation within the pentagon and the global campaign against terrorism. prior to joining the times mr. shankar was a foreign editor of the chicago trip and in berlin and moscow euro chi. eric schmitt is a senior writer for the nric times who has spent, who is written about the military and national security affairs for the newspaper for more than 20 years. mr. schmitt is covered some of the biggest doors and was part of two themes of times reporters awarded the pulitzer prize. including one in 1999 for
coverage of the transfer of substantive military technology to china and another in 2009 for coverage of afghanistan and pakistan. since the september 11 attacks both have made numerous trips to iraq and afghanistan embedding with troops at various levels to cover military operations there. please welcome gbowee and eric schmitt. [applause] >> thank you christina for that warm introduction and thank you for coming out here on a drizzly monday morning. my teenage daughter in fairfax wishes she were here too and she is wishing to be a part of your community for four more years. what i thought i would do is start out, thom and i will do a tag team up here the way we have been doing this to kind of
describe a little bit about what we have been doing the last couple of years and how this book came to be written and why we think it is so important in talking about how the campaign against terrorism and this administration in the previous one in the bush of administration how this all came to be. as we looked it was really three years ago when thom and i first started looking at this question as we were researching an article on how counterterrorism trust strategies and operations had changed and many sources said to understand where we are today you really have to understand where the country was on line 11 to understand how far does that, and how far it still has to go in terms of changes. there were two things that we focused on early in our reporting. one was a 9/11, just how little the united united states governt really knew about al qaeda and about terrorist networks and to get an understanding of this you need to understand a little bit about how little is known. as we went around and we talk to individuals in the bush white house, we were there that day
and we ran the white house and in washington and it became clear on 9/11 that al qaeda was the organization that was responsible for carrying out the attack. there were actually people inside the white house who asked, al hu when he came to understanding who this organization was. it just wasn't on the radar. al qaeda is an organization was not well understood even though it had already carried out on attack an attack against the world trade center towers in new york in 1993 and they carried out an attack against the uss cole in aid and harbor in yemen. it terrorism was happening at -- something that happened overseas. the other major flaws we looked at our reporting was the response to 9/11, that the government undertook. [. and perhaps understandably that response was an instinctive one, to use the military might of the united states along with its intelligence community and
basically used the approach to try and kill and capture its way to victory. the idea after all was if we just kill enough of the spiders and kill and capture enough of its leaders, that this organization will collapse internally and we will be done with it. that was pretty much the thinking even after the successful efforts in afghanistan with a small number of special forces troops going in and working with the northern alliance to move out al qaeda out of afghanistan and take down the taliban government. but that really was the thinking at the time and it was only a couple of years into this whole campaign when there is an important pivotal moment as we write in our book. this comes in december of 2003. this is when secretary don rumsfeld hands of very important mama to have a dozen of his top civilian and military leaders. now this point we are set to caution our editors that just because don rumsfeld said it doesn't mean it is necessarily wrong.
[laughter] in fact rumsfeld puts his finger on it in this important memo. it is a very short memo but he raises this important question in and the question is this. are we with their operations now and again this is december 2003 in iraq, are we creating more militants then we are taking off the battlefield? and if we are, we have to look at this whole campaign against a new enemy in a different way. again rumsfeld for all of his flaws, had a vision here. he had a problem and it wasn't being addressed. you expand the problem and that is essentially what he did. starting with his top military advisers, this is really one of the first times where the government is starting to look out from that kill and capture mentality. so what we do in the book is look at the evolution over 10 years where the government goes from knowing very little about
al qaeda and terrorist organizations in general to where we stand today with a pretty detailed knowledge of its leadership, of its structure, how it works and certainly since the death of bin laden and the information taken out of his safe house in pakistan. it is still imperfect knowledge and understanding of how terrorist networks operate and how they tend to bleed together now in and many of the areas the u.s. is combating forces today. we also look at how this campaign goes from being a fairly straightforward military campaign with the assistance of u.s. intelligence agencies to what we call a much more whole of government approach, where spies and soldiers are still very important obviously as the raid in abbottabad. now we hear -- or a 10 years later. other agencies of the u.s. government are much more involved. the state department, diplomats
are much more involved in counterterrorism efforts. the justice department and the fbi have people who are deployed overseas and are working alongside their foreign counterparts. the treasury department is the lead agency of the u.s. government in trying to choke off the financing of the terrorists use and have analyst sitting side-by-side in places like riyadh in saudi arabia trying to work on cutting back and eliminating wealthy donors in that country you continue to give money to the taliban into al qaeda. so as we look forward in terms of how this approach is going we are looking at those two big questions because this is all still very much an evolving picture. how is the thread changing and how is the response government makes? how did this all happen? i'm going to to turn it over to thom to tell you the next part of the story. >> i would like to echo the sincere thanks to the miller center and to christine and for all of you for taking time out in your schedule to come and
discuss this with you. i would like to say everything important i know in life i have learned from my wife, johnny cash in the united and the unitd states army. [laughter] and as eric and i were casting our eyes back over the past 10 years we were looking for some organizing principles together all of this information in a way that would be digested, and if you know the way the military looks at the world they divide things into tactical and the operational and strategic. so we do just that in our book burger we have tactical case studies. the young men and women learning, evolving, doing missions on the ground. we have some very skewed stories that it never been reported before and i will share one of those with you later and that the operational level we analyze how the bureaucracies and the institutions of our government is false and how they came to a greater understanding that the
terrorists operate in networks and they even have corporate structures if you will. if you understand the business model of how terrorists operate, what individual are essential to the entire enterprise than their opportunities to target and take out those individuals, financiers, bomb makers, gunrunners etc. so you don't have to capture and kill everybody because there is no way to kill your way to victory in the war against global violent extremism. what government learned is that takes a network to defeat a network. and of course at the high level, the uber level, the mental level we describe the search for a grand strategy of counterterrorism. something that would echo detainment and it turns that existed during the cold war and kept a tense nuclear peace with the soviet union during all those dark days. so i would like to focused first on that strategic search for a
grand strategy of counterterrorism. it is really an untold story of how it very unlikely group of big thinkers inside the pentagon, across the intelligence community and in some of the military commands were thinking outside the box. the two most important word an old cold warrior at the pentagon and his young jedi apprentice who is sort of a hollywood handsome cia and turned. i mention hollywood handsome, if you are looking for the screen rights eric and i will be available afterwards. it is obvious when he tried to a plight containment and deterrence to a terror network. obviously terrace don't hold territory like the soviet union did so there is no way to identify very valuable targets to hold at risk like the kremlin, like factories, like the soviet unions own missile silos, bike the black sea where the palladio kept their bolshoi mistresses, valuable things you can hold at risk.
and at the same time of course, terrorist do not believe the return address like an incoming missile from the soviet union does. so those were the problems. but with these sought to do was to identify a different kind of territory that these violent extremists hold dear, virtual territory that is required for them to operate effectively. if you can put those things at risk, if you make the terrorist worry about the safety of those virtual safe havens then you can affect their thinking and change their behavior and that of course is the essence of classic deterrence. so what are these things? changes for success, personal glory and reputation. if you throw a barriers and make it harder than a lot of terrorists would rather not try and try and fail and be disgraced in the eyes of their followers. terrorists believe that are not want some more -- support among the muslim committed. is where they get their money,
is where they get their volunteer so slowly the government learned it should point out that 85% of those killed in a terrorist attack since 9/11 have been innocent muslims. terrorists also require network cohesion. trust, confidence, so the government and the intelligence community try to understand how to get inside the terrorist communication systems and how they think, and therefore to sow confusion and distrust and dissent, to take apart the cohesion from the inside. now we acknowledge that this assessment of the new deterrence against violent extremism is not perfect. it certainly won't work on someone like bin laden or those at the highest level and it also won't work on those young committed jihad these after they have strapped on a suicide vest. it is simply too late but there are a lot of people in the middle who are required for a terror system to operate you don't want to make fields might
sacrifice and you can threaten them and put them at risk to achieve a deterrent effect. this concept also borrows from the older deterrence which goes back to a traditional criminal justice. you put cops on the street, you put prisons with unbreakable walls, all to influence the decisions of those who are impending criminal action and hope to deter that. with all the potential is banking on new deterrence offered there were a lot of people who were resisting and i guess the number one resistor in chief was president george bush. he wanted to be a war on terror president, not a deterrence terror president so when roosevelt took these new ideas down to his ranch in crawford texas in 2005 bush said no, i'm sorry, not buying it. it doesn't work. as fate would have it inside the closed room in a ranch in
crawford there is a four-star general sitting there, general james carr right who at the time was commander of american strategic command which owns the classic crown jewels of america's nuclear arsenal, the bombers, the missiles, the nuclear submarines and cart right on a zone of brilliant thinker and analyst, had been working through some of the same issues and president bush turned to him and said haas, what you think about this nonsense that my defense secretary is talking and cart right said, with all due respect mr. president we are doing the same work and there is a lot to be had there. cartwright was in the room that day not to talk about this thinking but to talk about missile defense against north korea and iran. in what cartwright said to the president who is a huge supporter of limited missile defense, mr. president if you think that 12 or 20 or 30 armed missile interceptors which we know will be unable to knock down every enemy missile, but if you believe that small system
can inject uncertainty into the mind of an adversary in north korea or iran, if you think our limited imperfect system might change the thinking of north korea or iran, if you accept that deterrent, well mr. president how can you not applied those same rules of thinking to countering violent extremism? >> this is what some of the critics and the pentagon and other people were saying. how do you make this work? let me give you a few examples from our book and again a lot of things things are happening in the fields as we write in this book. many of these things the innovations are coming from the young military officials officers, young analyst, people who are trying to solve problems on the ground, not in direct
from washington or higher headquarters. so let's take this example of thinking about deterrence and networks as thom it mentioned before. this idea of networks is really important because again, the idea that you can have on one end of the spectrum suicide bombers, probably most of them are not deterrable. although the government tried as we fight about in the secret efforts after the 9/11 attacks to get to him through his family with secret messages. he never responded that the people in the middle that thom talked about, these enablers, the supporters, these are people like the logisticians, the gunrunners, the financiers, these are people in the network that the bombers rely upon but they are also people who are not driven by the ideology. they are in it for the money
actually. you aren't going to be old to take that important piece of the chain out of place and make it much more difficult for the bombers to carry out their task. how does this actually happened in the field? one instance we talk about is the instance of the suicide bomber networks that it falls where young suicide bomber is recruited throughout the mideast, north africa and they the come into sirri and there is a pipeline that comes in through syria into iraq. initially the attempts were to try to pick off the suicide bombers as they come into iraq and kill off as many as you can before they can get their suicide vest. that what they found there was almost a virtual limitless supply of these young men who were committed to jihad and committed to blowing themselves up. some of the intelligence analyst get together and talking with their iraqi colleagues as well. d. know what? if we take out a very important piece of this network, we will
do better i think. the key here is lee 20 the suicide bombers had to have his mission blessed by a cleric, i sharia a mayor who is going to bless this attack going forward. therefore ensuring the bomber knows he will go to heaven and get all the benefits, the virgins and everything to come along with this package deal. what happens though, you can take out that a mayor, if instead of killing and capturing the bombers themselves, you take out the key person who is blessing the attacks. they started killing and capturing and guess what? it is a lot harder to replace a trained sharia then some suicide bomber and without that guide to bless the attacks the bombers aren't going to go forward so their effort is stymied. until they can reorganized themselves. but again it is an example of where the military working with analyst start pulling a very important piece out of this
network to disrupt or dissuade these attacks from taking place. another example is again, going after the financiers and we talk about in our book how in the case of nangarhar province in afghanistan the american military work with analyst on the ground to go after the sanctions trading system called for wallace. these are family run business is basically and what the americans did was they shut down some of -- half a dozen of these businesses and they turn to their colleagues in the trinity and said he saw what we just did? we shut down your neighbors and your colleagues. these are good businesses you have. they provide you a nice standard of living. you have a nice house. there's a nice garden that goes with this house. nice wherewithal for your children and all. we will make this go away however and we have will shut you down just as we shut down your neighbors if you continue to do business with the taliban. find to do a legitimate business but do business with al qaeda --
taliban and you will end up like your neighbors. they had to move elsewhere to conduct their business, forcing them to make it more difficult to operate again without firing a shot here. and finally of what we talk about in our look in a great amount of detail is how the united states has been able to penetrate perhaps the ultimate safe haven that terrorists have and that is the internet. the cyber world. this is where the terrorist do much of their recruiting, where they raise money or even through the use of virtual on line wargames. they can actually plot and carry out attacks. using the same vernacular your teenager might use in using this type of wargames. the other thing americans are doing now is they are infiltrating many of these militant chat rooms, getting inside, oftentimes doing no more than posing very provocative questions, posing as militants in saying dear brothers why is it that this bombing of a
wedding party in amman jordan that killed scores of muslim men, women and children civilians, how does this advance our goal? how does it the advance the goal of osama bin laden again raises questions about and maybe dissuade some of these young militants thinking about carrying out bombings or attacks from deciding whether they want to go through with it or not. the same thing is happening as americans are infiltrating hacking into the cell phone networks of terrorist leaders so they can send out some contradictory or confusing messages to the militants themselves to the point where militants read these messages on their cell phones and go you i think our guy has lost it or going out necessarily want to go along with the program any more. and finally, where the cyber defense of the united states has been able to come up with exact duplicates of the watermarks that al qaeda uses to put out their messages.
again, being able to send out contradictory messages in terms of confusing and perhaps dissuading militants from starting the attacks altogether. even as the tactical successes are growing as you gather and understand intelligence better and looking how to combat enemies, there is also this understanding as we talked earlier in the talk about how to understand your enemy, how to get inside their head, how to dissuade and disrupt them in different ways. this is really the long-term solutions of this campaign. >> so i would like to share with you one of the case studies from our book as an example of how after the early understandable fumbling and stumbling after 9/11 when u.s. focused on capture and kill how after a number of years the interagency did learn to work together. is a case of what wright really can look like when our government gets its act together. it starts on another september 11, this time in 2007 and it was a mission in the
western deserts of iraq, just a dusty tent village called send jar that american intelligence had found was the most significant smuggling route for foreign fighters and jihadi's coming in from outside of iraq. iraqi insurgents really were not suicide bombers. they didn't want to die for their cause. they wanted to live another day so most of the suicide omers for foreign jihadi's to attack the americans if not the suicide bombers themselves to learn fighting techniques and bomb-making skills. as you all recall, 2007 during the search, suicide almonds were 40, 50, 60 a day exacting a terrible toll not only on the american allies but of course on the iraqi people. so the u.s. government to put a number of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms overhead of this town of.
they had stocked up cell phones and had 27 real-time videos and establish what they called a pattern of life. they could predict when each shipment of future suicide bombers would be coming in. a commando team went in and they went in hard. they killed the emir who manage this smuggling line and killed several of his comrades but what they didn't expect, they scooped up a number the number of computers and hard drives and documents. what they learned according to our sources was that al qaeda is as as the nazis when it comes to recordkeeping. another interesting observation was videocameras. the al qaeda video do everything as much as pamela anderson and tommy lee according to one of our sources. what they were able to recall from this incredible david came to be known as hometowns of all
the young men who would come to iraq to make jihad and more importantly it showed which schoolteachers or religious leaders had inspired them to make jihad and they were able to determine and graphic spreadsheet form where they were from and where the ink spots are the centers of gravity that were providing so many suicide bombers. two-thirds were coming from libya and saudi arabia. very very interesting. won an ally, not one of the time. of the documents were translated and compiled and analyzed at the military wondered what can we do with it? this is a very powerful narrative. in the military, whatever unit captures intelligence owns the classification of that intelligence, so one officer who wasn't very well-known at the time but is now. his name is stanley mcchrystal. he was the commander of this mission and he decides i'm going
to break down walls. this is simply too valuable to keep inside my joint special operations command to run more missions. we need to push this out to the world. so he declassified more than 800 files on 800 jihadi's. he gave it to special operations command. he gave it to west point to do some academic research and then do really revolutionary idea, he gave it to the state department, where the new ambassador for counterterrorism was an old battle buddy of his, a retired three-star general named del daily could become the state department's top officer for counterterrorism. general daily/ambassador daley went across the middle east to countries that for were friends of the u.s., countries that were partners of the u.s. and countries whom we had very rocky relations. he had walked in with his generals credentials, his ambassador suit and laid out for the interior ministry, justice
officials, their intelligence officers. he said look guys, this is not american propaganda. these are your passports. these are your internal travel documents that show these jihadi's are coming from your country. even if you don't care about the fate of our soldiers are the iraqis, a number of these are going to come back to your country very highly trained. do you want that? you have to help us stop the flow of these young men out of your country. general daily's efforts were so effective that by the end of 2007 and into 2008 general petraeus with the overall commander in iraq and this whole of government effort beginning with the intelligence on the send jar side, the commando raid, the capture of the document, the exploitation of the intelligence and then the diplomatic effort to spread it across the middle east, that entire whole the government ever
did more to hault suicide bombings in iraq than any military mission could have. to conclude, where does this leave us today? here we are a couple of weeks after the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and a lot of commemoration ceremonies in washington and shanksville but where's the country today? as we complete the ark of our book. to be sure the al qaeda leadership in pakistan with the death of bin laden the navy s.e.a.l. raid has taken secure blows. several other key al qaeda leaders have been taken off the battlefield and just that period of time to drone strikes to capture. so that important al qaeda leadership structure in the tribal areas along the afghan border is diminished now. its capability to organize and carry out attacks against the united states is diminished. not completely eliminated but diminished.
at the same time however, there has been a growth of affiliates of al qaeda. corporate offshoots. franchises. places like garth africa and east africa and somalia and most troublesome in yemen. yemen after all is the al qaeda offshoot that orchestrated the so-called under -- the young nigerian man who tried to blow himself up on a plane in detroit in 2009 or the same organization that timmons later packed explosives and printer cartridges and put them on air cargo planes bound for chicago but for a tip in the saudi intelligence services could have exploded somewhere along the lines. so you have a diminished threat from the leadership did carried out the attack against 9/11 which suggest the possibility of another large-scale mass casualty attack like we experienced on 9/11 is probably
less than today but the likelihood of another attack, a smaller scale attack is probably greater. , not only from these affiliates that continue to scheme and come up with plots to do this but also from americans here in the united states who were radicalized in a couple of ways. either by traveling to the tribal areas and being trained by al qaeda instructors and lawmaking techniques, such as the young man named najibullah zazi who was a manhattan pushcart vendor and a denver airport driver who had a plot to carry backpack bombs on the subway system in new york and blow them up during rush hour. again luckily this plot was thwarted but it also involves americans who are being radicalized in their homes by listening to the on line videos particular in the case of a guy named anwar al-awlaki. he was an american born cleric. he preached in mosques in fairfax virginia and san diego and he is in hiding in yemen
where he is not only that affiliates chief propagandist but also one of their chief operational planners right now. knowing and understanding the way to the west and specifically to the united states and trying to come up with new attacks. where does this leave us in terms of a response? clearly, the government is marshaled much more of its response at the cost of hundreds of millions and billions of dollars really. we are going through an exercise in washington of reconciling the cost as the economy, the troubles of the economy sink in and trying to measure and assign some risks. can this country now take more risks now that we are more mature and think more maturely about the threat that we face, understanding if you look at the 9/11 attacks of course that day there were four airplanes hijacked, three of course into driven into the world trade center towers and one into the pentagon and get what was the threat people were worried about on 9/11 itself on the tenth anniversary? it was a concern that a couple
of possible u.s. citizens had gotten back into the country and work going to carry out a truck bomb in washington or new york. the scale is quite different. still the aim is to terrorize. while we argue in our book however is that this country's leadership starting with the president on its way down through congress is not prepared the mecca public for what we say will be, we believe will be another attack. we don't know exactly when it is going to come or what form it will be. if you look at the creativity of the bomb may a curse he can come in the form of an airplane strike or just about any way. it come can of the radicalization of an individual is assigned fort hood texas where an army major picked up an automatic rifle and shot his colleagues in the processing a processing center. what this country is not done and these political leaders have not done is to start talking back how that next time will come and how the country needs to be more resilient and defend against them.
and we don't mean in our book to say resilience in the form of rebuilding, physically rebuilding. i think all of us who sought damages from ground zero have have to be heartened by what we saw actually being rippled there in lower manhattan but we are talking about in her book cites logical -- psychological resilience. learning after an attack, you physically clean up the attacks, he grieved those who have died but then then you move on so you don't overreact and you don't give terrorists exactly what they want that overreaction i will continue their momentum to recruit a new. so as we look forward to the coming years and this government tries to put its arms around this attackhim again are we safer? i think we are safer probably from the same kind of mass casualty attack we witnessed on 9/11. we are probably more vulnerable to a smaller scale attack in the question is when it comes will this country be resilient enough to deal with it in a mature way,
address the problem and not overreact? that is the question before us today. thom and i thank you very much for coming today and we look forward to your questions. thank you. [applause] >> thank you is very much. in a few.viamonte will head to the back of their men invite you all to please line up in the back to ask questions. i would like to begin with the point you touched upon very briefly eric actually and something i imagine comes as a surprise to most americans which is the early u.s. efforts to communicate directly with al qaeda. i was hoping you could give us details on this, putting this into context and to what extent is a reason to believe that perhaps these attempts continued today? >> what we write about in her book right after the 9/11 attacks there a number of reactions. we talk about the killing capture reaction in the and the troops on the ground.
some other reactions were frankly somewhat harebrained and one of the things we write about in the book is how up on point and a small pentagon official, somebody even suggested if there was going to be signs of another attack coming from a kite is that the united states threatened to bomb mecca. while you can imagine i think that shows the lack of cultural sensitivity to say the very least about the kind of thinking when i'm. thankfully that i didn't never left the room but what they did do and what the american, the small number of intelligence officials and others in the government did was they tried to open a conversation with bin laden himself. extensively to try to set down some red lines to say look obviously we have been attacked by al qaeda but here we are going to draw some red lines along which we will take action that maybe may be that not conceive. they did this going through bin laden family members and business associates and saudi arabia and elsewhere in the middle east in the hopes of at least trying to draw out an adversary just as the united
states again thinking these loose lines in deterrence is sought out different soviet leaders about the years. as these efforts won him for a number of years and again very small group, very hush-hush, the response from bin laden was silence and as far as we know today there is no response. >> thank you for coming. is a fascinating story. it sounds to me as if what you are describing represents the victory of those who said we have got to concentrate on counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency. that makes sense to me and i think the point that you were me keen about developing american resiliency, i like the statement on michael lighter as he was leaving the nctc that people had to be ready for this. but my question goes to the so-called arab spring countries. you mentioned them in the context of yemen are going
thinking broadening that perhaps libya. we don't know how that is going to work and to each of the same thing. do our people who are working on this matrix and these people who are fueling terrorist that to the day, making money out of it, they beginning to look at the turbulence in the arab spring countries is sort of a more fertile field to work and for their and then afghanistan might be? >> that is an incredibly important question and thank you for asking. in the early days of the arab spring in tunisia and egypt, al qaeda was caught flat-footed because in that they had always said that it would take violent acts to liberate the arab world from the despotic regimes many of those who are allied of the united states united states united states so when in fact those governments fell through the efforts of people power, revolution and democratic ideals the al qaeda narrative seem to
be dead. what we have learned sense of courses that was just the first act in what is going to be a three act play if not more and as is the hopes and aspirations of the arab spring began to enter big grim era bottom, net gap there is certainly an opportunity for extremism to come back and and tried to gain inroads and we are seeing that in some places already. >> hello and thank you was for coming in for laying out so much in such a short time. i might conclude from the introduction that you feel that it was a wrong move to start war against the taliban in afghanistan just after 9/11. is that the truth? >> not at all. obviously there are to be -- there was going to be a natural reaction to take, to go after the perpetrators of an attack
but killed nearly 3000 americans. i don't think there's any question about that and i think we would argue that was done very smartly with a small footprint from the americans at the time. leaders were conscious of the soviet experience so they sent small numbers of cia and special forces to work with the northern alliance to drive out using american airpower to drive out al qaeda and ultimately to collapse the taliban government. i think from there of course, you move into the decision to bush administration me to go to war with iraq which was not a center hub for terrorists at the time. became one that was we talk about some of the examples in our talk so i think now we have come full circle of course as time went on and afghanistan was a campaign both the taliban and al qaeda and their al qaeda allies across the border would reconstitute retrain and take more territory leaving the
government in a position where we'd have american troops on the ground and now they are fighting taliban and other militant groups many of whom have safe haven in pakistan which is a major problem both for the effort on the ground there as well as for american foreign-policy. >> thank you very much for an excellent talk. could you comment on the role of the broadcast media in helping us develop this resilience. i don't think the broadcast media or the media in general have really lifted a finger along these lines. >> well, i am sort of an old-school journalist. i actually lay flowers on the statue of gutenberg. without him i would not have had a job. so i'm old-school enough so that i don't believe that the broadcast media or in a media
have a role to further government policy. we are to inform, to educate and to investigate so that all of view, the taxpayers and voters, can tell your government how you want to have. the theme of resiliency, that is to be communicated to the american people it has to be done by the senior leadership. on earlier questioner cited michael lighter mack. it has to come from the presidential level. before 9/11 we had a scoop and at times because we were made privy to the white house talking points ahead of the tenth anniversary and for for the first time resilience was front and center. the way that is the challenge is in the polarized political environment we have today whenever a senior leader talks about resilience? it means were going to get attacked again and that of course whichever party accuses the president of being weak, so i think of if there is one thing
that the whole media has to discuss our leaders accountable for why there is not a more unified view of national policy from a water said to outward as they were for many years during the cold war. domestic abuse. >> stayed home and inform policy the states come together. i don't think it is the broadcaster's role. i think it is up to the political leiter. >> thank you very much both of you for joining us this morning. i have a three-part question if you don't mind. one, have you looked into what the root cause is for people to strap on a bomb belt as suicide bombers and two, you you know, l qaeda would not have existed in iraq before we attacked in 2003.
any comment on that, and three, now that osama is gone, should we not get out of afghanistan? thank you. >> i will take a shot at the first couple of those. in terms of the root causes of course it is very difficult if you look at the al qaeda leadership, many of them came from well-educated wealthy families. bin laden himself, his father's one of the most wealthy construction builders in the middle east but certainly if you look across the arab spring movement, you see there are some common elements. the alienation in this case of many young people, there are economic opportunities and educational opportunities. i think obviously these are local grievances that al qaeda has preyed upon and other
militant groups as well and trying to make this not just a local grievance whether it is in your village or your province or your county but make it a nationwide and international crusades i think this is the trouble he united states his head and trying to counter this message. it has been a simple but effective message that al qaeda continues to espouse and that is the west in the united states is at war with islam and how do you fight that when there are tens of thousands of american truth sure meaning in iraq and afghanistan and as we saw last week in the debate for the united nations general assembly the whole issue of palestinian statehood. in terms of al qaeda and iraq as i alluded to in an earlier question to be sure there was not a terrorist threat inside of iraq in 2002 or 2003. once of course the united states decides to go and it becomes a magnet as we talk about the
suicide romer's coming from all over the middle east trying to come in and it becomes the center for jihad in that area. trying to turn that around now has been a great task as we talked about in her book. al qaeda and iraq largely defeated as we see today and is starting to make a comeback there. maybe thom would like to take on the third one. >> actually to answer the third question, it is really worth reviewing eric's answer, the bush administration made the case for war in iraq because of what intelligence said was weapons of mass destruction and indicated potential links to terrorist but mike attacked the u.s.. intelligence has been debunked. the one lesson of iraq that is undeniable is that no american president has ever going to send 150,000 troops to invade a country on a counterterrorism
mission. it's just not going to happen. how is that relevant for afghanistan? the u.s. troop which are all is set for the end of 2014. that they said their vital strategic interest in preventing afghanistan from becoming yet again a safe haven for al qaeda or anyplace in the world to be a safe haven so i think what this country is evolving too and the narrative spine of our book is this new darwinism. terrorists are evolving and getting smarter. the u.s. is trying to evolve and get smarter as well so true stories slated to come out of afghanistan by 2014 but no doubt they smaller counterterrorism presence is likely to remain there and also in other parts of the world. >> has some of you know we are beginning to incorporate questions from the social media outlets into our form so this is a question that comes from allen washington d.c. submitted via facebook. heidi you think with real-time
reporting hurts or helps evers to combat terrorism? >> certainly gives you a birdseye view as to what is going on but it can cut two ways. let's look at the mumbai attacks in india. by having those attacks not only indian television of an international television, it obviously gave the general public as well as world leaders and other counterterrorism officials a very clear look as to what is going on but would also did in this was to liberate them by the terrace, gave them situational awareness by just watching their television. they could see what was succeeding in and what was not and they could put their handlers and pakistan could be directed to certain other kinds of attacks by watching what is working on various floors of some of the hotels and what is going on around the town. this is raise questions in the immediate aftermath of mumbai whether the media, television
broadcasting should either boycott or blackout or somehow restrict the coverage of this. this was raised by people at new york city police department who sent a team to mumbai to study what would happen if this happened in new york or other major american city and could we the policeman's case, request the broadcast media to restrict some of this coverage to impair the ability of terrorist to use that to their tactical advantage. it is a discussion that obviously has been going on behind closed doors but it raises a really interesting point of how you in this case would manage from a law-enforcement standpoint the very fast-moving, fluid terrorist type attacks, small-scale attack happening in multiple locations simultaneously, how you would defeat that when the terrorists are using part of the communications network, that in
this case the americans have come to rely on their information. >> thinking about the recent views on the numbers of soldiers who have been injured in pakistan by the taliban with their ties to al qaeda. do you think it is a good idea for the united states to remove the financial aid that we have been giving to pakistan? >> the pakistan is probably the most vexing foreign-policy issue facing our country today and guess that is my line but i can't give you a direct answer. we have a vital interest. it is a nuclear power sitting on the crossroads of violent extremism. what we learned though in years past, when the u.s. cut off ties completely with pakistan is we allowed an entire generation of our military officers not to have the opportunity to come to united states and study at
leavenworth and interact with our military and create the kinds of ties that really do bind militaries together. is their problem with relationship? absolutely but is severing ties the first that bush should take? i'm not sure what the effect of that would be. to understand pakistan's point of view you really have to put yourself or they sit. whether we agreed or not they look in one direction cmbs the existential threat. they look the other way at afghanistan and see a very unstable country where they know the u.s. is going to leave yet again. they have seen this movie before. is called charlie wilson's war. they have literally seen this movie before and so they are supporting insurgent extremist groups in afghanistan because that is how they want to maintain influence there. the problem is this one of our intelligence sources used to say to us, pakistan is keeping these poisonous snakes to bite the neighbors kids but they will
bite their own kids as well and pakistan is playing a very dangerous game. is up to their leadership internally to come to the realization that is not the best policy. >> it strikes me that much of what you have studied in the book was secured. it held, it was tough to get in there. can you tell me something about your sources ended you have any luck with the na sa which may have played a great part party to? >> our book is largely drawn from first accounts from interviews we had with more than 200 individuals throughout the government at the highest levels of the pentagon, the justice department and the fbi cia and the other intelligence communities, justice department, state department again trying to get his whole a government approach in our sourcing as we were in our approach to this book. we did receive 30 good
cooperation and in large regard that is because thom and i have been working the story as reporters for the times for 15 or 20 years. so we are going back to many sources who have been working with us for daily reporting and basically saying we want to take a step that can try to put the last 10 years in perspective. can you help us do that and through their recollections and providing us with certain documents, to giving us their perspective, sometimes after many cases after they left government and able to perhaps be a little bit more candid than they were before. in terms of the question of classification, particularly in areas such as the cyber stuff, we are very careful as we discuss this with the sources that nothing -- all this information we were very careful to go back to our sources and say look here is what we are planning to publish in this is by the way what we do with daily newspaper stories. this is what we are planning to publish. if you have any objection, let
us know now. be of an objection we can work it out and we did in many cases in very small instances. some information was withheld particularly in places where this was happening because these agencies may want to try a similar technique or use a similar tactic again about the enemy knowing the details that go through it. this was our approach and again it mirrors the approach we do on a day-to-day basis working as "new york times" reporter's. >> as far as the question about the nsa, general alexander's is dual-hatted as director is the nsa's will as commander of u.s. cyber command they gave us his very first interview ever. as you know fort meade is so highly classified but we couldn't even enter the fort meade complex so we met at the national cryptologic museum which is outside the gate, so i call it a first aid and i didn't even get off the front porch.
[laughter] >> thank you. there've there have been several television interviews including a fox affiliate in california of spokespersons for an organization called the architects and engineers for 9/11 truth. is as a group of about 1600 licensed architects and engineers in the united states who are claiming that the evidence, scientific evidence that they have an ally shows that the two towers and building seven were brought down by controlled demolition. whether we believe this or not, this is what these licensed architects are putting their careers on the line for, to say they want a new investigation. do you think al qaeda could have had the capability on 9/11 to plant explosives in the buildings, which takes weeks to do? would they have had that kind of
capability? >> no. they wouldn't have, and i know this is. i was asked about it in a previous lecture in the west coast last week. i'm not familiar with what these architects were saying but i do know this was unprecedented to have these kinds of attacks were basically aircraft hole jet whole jet fuel coming in than going out. neither one of sir techno-experts on how this may have happened. i would have personal skepticism about the scenario but i think a lot was not known about how this amount of jet fuel and the high temperature it raised forming a multicore in the middle, but i think we would refer you and refer others to the investigation that has taken place but they have been exhausted and looking at exactly how this could happen. how buildings side-by-side could implode like this and not keel over tip over and implode like that. obviously it was of great
interest to the engineering community involved. you can imagine the insurers insurers as well as looking at how this possibly could have happened, not just once but twice. >> we have just spent an hour listening to why this happened and how it happened and what this country and others are trying to do to keep it from happening again. we have sat through several other hours in the last couple years of a very similar form. and i can go all the way back to cain and abel but how can you get into the culture that creates people that want to go out and give their life to bomb? it is one thing to go out when your country has been attacked as we have in defending world war ii and those kinds of things but i don't don't know there is an answer to this question. how do we get along with people so they don't want to bomb us and why do they hate us so much?
>> i think to unpack your question how do we get into their culture, i think that is impossible. the sorts of changes you are talking about have have to happen internally within the muslim world. muslims themselves must decide that violent extremism carried out in the name of their great religion is something that they don't want to tolerate. should the united states and other countries in the west help that part of the world to eradicate what eric describes so well is the poverty of hope? of course that is our job all of us to help our fellow men and women of force but whenever you talk about is getting into their culture or how do we win their hearts and minds, i think muslims find that very insulting because to talk about winning their hearts and minds says to them, you have to love us and think like us and we would not appreciate that coming from another culture. i think one of our interviews with it --